Santa Claus arrived in style Friday evening to Buckley Park, ready to sing holiday songs with Durango’s excited children.
His flashing red and white sleigh was pulled down Main Avenue right on time, though not by eight reindeer but rather two Clydesdale horses. Children who had been awaiting his arrival gathered around him as he stepped onto the sidewalk, and he quickly knelt to give several of his biggest fans a warm embrace.
“Give me a big hug!” Santa told a little girl wearing a festive tiara, and she squealed in delight, wrapping her small arms around his neck.
Santa then headed to the stage, where he joined the Lisa Blue Trio, already singing everybody’s favorite Christmas songs on stage.
The line to visit with the jolly North Pole resident had already begun stretching across the length of the park and around the sidewalk long before Santa’s arrival, and the children waiting their turn ran around with excitement and endless energy, waving glow sticks the city of Durango provided. Many already knew what they were going to ask of Santa, but only if he determined they had been good little boys and girls this past year.
“I want a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume!” said 6-year-old Beckett Hamar.
“I want a blue Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume!” said 3-year-old Banks Hamar, proud that he specified what color he wanted.
A young girl in the crowd shouted that she wanted a dinosaur, though she did not specify whether she wanted a real dinosaur or a toy version, and another young boy proclaimed that he wanted candy.
While the children decided on last-minute gift choices for themselves, their parents waited in line for the sugar and chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate promised by event organizers.
“The hot chocolate is delicious!” said Barbara Sandifer and her husband, Richard. The couple had ventured to Durango from Birmingham, Kentucky, to spend time with family for Thanksgiving. Though they did not have any children with them to visit with Santa, they were enjoying the festivities and waiting for the lighting of the big Christmas tree.
“This is such a fun experience,” Barbara Sandifer said. “The town really went all out, didn’t they?”
Many in the crowd would agree with Barbara, as nearly a thousand Durango residents gathered together to sing songs, drink hot chocolate, eat cookies, and greet family and friends with smiles and hugs. There was plenty of cheer as the massive spruce tree in Buckley Park came to life with bright, colorful lights on a cold, winter night.